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tv   Tonight From Washington  CSPAN  December 29, 2009 10:00pm-11:00pm EST

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single person. it is work that we take so seriously. is work that we know we don't have all the answers for but it is the work that american signed up to do. we will continue day by day, in spite inch, to try to make whatever progress is seemingly possible. thank you all very much. . .
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>> the secretary has time for three questions. we thought because so many of you have abandoned your final papers to be here, the students that is, that we would take the questions from our students. so let me ask you, we have several people along the sides with microphones. here's somebody with a microphone. do we have one more? let's have a first question from a student. that doesn't look like a student. let's get -- here, let's get a
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young person here. we're not discriminating. we just want a calm approach to things. >> hello, secretary clinton. thank you so much for speaking to us today. you spoke about the situation in uganda. could you please talk to us a little bit more about how the united states can protect the rights of lgbt people in the areas where the rights are not respected? >> yes. first, let me say over the past year we have elevated into our human rights dialogue and public statements a very clear message about protecting the rights of the lgbt community worldwide. and we are particularly concerned about some of the specific cases that have come to our attention around the world. there have been organized efforts to kill and maim gays and lesbians in some countries. we have spoken out about and
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also con vad our very strong concerns about to their governments, not that they were government tally implemented or even that the government was aware of them, but that the governments need to pay much greater attention to the kinds of abuses that we have seen in iraq, for example. we are deeply concerned about some of the stories coming out of iran. in large measure in reaction, we think, to the response to the elections back in june. there have been abuses committed within the detention facilities and elsewhere that we are deeply concerned about. and then the example that i used of a piece of legislation in uganda which would not only criminalize homosexuality but attach the death penalty to it. we have expressed our concern
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directly, indirectly, and we will continue to do so. the bill has not gone through the ugandan legislature, but it has a lot of public support by various groups including religious leaders in uganda. and we view it as a very serious potential violation of human rights. so it is clear that across the world this is a new frontier in the minds of many people about how we protect the lgbt community, but it is at the top of our list because we see many instances where there is a very serious assault on the physical safety and an increasing effort to marginalize people. and we think it's important for the united states to stand against that and to enlist others to join us in doing so.
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>> right here. >> good morning, secretary clinton. thank you so much for being here at georgetown. you brought up iran today, and i really appreciate that as an iranian-american. i am a graduate student and had the pleasure of being in iran this summer if my first trip and witness what has happened after the election. now that six months has passed after the election, what can the united states do to balance our support of the human rights activists and demonstrators in the streets of iran with our agenda with regard to the iranian nuclear program? how do we balance the two issues? >> you're right. it is a balancing act, but the most important balancing act is to make sure that our very strong opposition to what is going on inside iran doesn't in any way undermine the legitimacy of the protest movement that has taken hold. now, this is one of those very good examples of a hard call.
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after the election and the reaction that began almost immediately by people who felt that the election was invalid put us in a position of seriously considering what is the best way we can support those who are putting their lives on the line by going into the streets. we wanted to convey clear support, but we didn't want the attention shifted from the legitimate concern to the united states because we had nothing to do with the spontaneous reaction that grew up in response to the behavior of the iranian government. so it's been a delicate walk, but i think the activists inside iran know that we support them. we have certainly encouraged their continuing communication of what's going on inside iran. one of the calls that we made shortly after the election in
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the midst of the demonstrations is this unit of these very tech savvy young people that we've created inside the state department knew there was a lot of demonstrations and sharing of information on twitter and totally unconnected to what was going on in iran, twitter had planned some kind of lapse in service to do something on their system. you can tell i have no idea what they were doing. i mean, you know, i don't know twitter from tweeter. to be honest with you. so these young tech people in the state department called twitter and said, don't take twitter down right now. whatever you're going to do to reboot or whatever it is, don't take twitter down because people in iran are dependent upon twitter. so we have done that careful balancing. clearly, we think that pursuing an agenda of nonproliferation is
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a human rights issue. i mean, what would be worse than nuclear material or even a nuclear weapon being in the hands of either a state or a nonstate actor that would be used to intimidate and threaten and even in the worst case scenario destroy? so we see a continuum. so pursuing what we think is in the national security interest and not only of the united states but countries in europe and in the middle east is also a human rights issue. so we do not want to be in an either/or position. are we going to pursue nonproliferation with iran or are we going to support the demonstrators inside iran? we're going to do both to the best of our ability to get a result that will further the cause we are seeking to support. >> one final question in the back.
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right there. with the red. >> thank you. i am wonder iing what you see t role of artists doing in helping to promote human rights? i had the privilege earlier this summer to hear a playwright lynn no nodidge speak after she advocated for women's rights in the congo, and i wonder how you see creative practice accompanying and amplifying policy. >> that is a wonderful question because i think the arts and artists are one of our most effective tools in reaching beyond and through repressive regimes in giving hope to
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people. it was a very effective tool during the cold war. i have had so many eastern europeans tell me that it was american music, it was american literature, it was american poetry that kept them going. i remember when a guest came to the white house during my husband's administration duringing a state dinner. i said, well, who would you like to entertain at the state dinner? i didn't know what he was going to say. he say lou reed. and it was his music that was just so important for us in prison, out of prison, and you could name many other american artists who have traveled -- we're going to try to increase the number of artistic exchanges we do. so that we can get people into settings where they will be able to directly communicate. now, with communication being what it is today, you can
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download them and all the rest, but there's something about the american government sending somebody to make that case which i think is very important to our commitment. also, artists can bring to light in a gripping, dramatic way some of the challenges we face. youñr mentioned the play about women in the congo.çó i remember some years ago seeing a play about women in bosnia during the conflict there. it was so gripping and i still see the faces of those women who were pulled from their homes, separated from their husbands, often raped and left, you know, just asghar bad garbage on the the road. i think artists individually and through their work can illustrate better than any speech i can give or any government policy we can promulgate that the spirit that lives within each of us, the right to think and vrgam and expand our boundaries is not
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confined no matter how hard they try by any regime anywhere in the world. there is no way that you can deprive people from feeling those stirrings inside their soul. an artist can give voice to that. they can give shape and movement to it. and it is so important in places where people feel forgotten and marginalized and depressed and hopeless to have that glimmer that there is a better future, that there is a better way, that they just have to hold onto. so i'm going to do what i can to continue to increase and enhance our artistic outreach, but this is also a great area for private foundatio foundations, for n.g.o.'s, for artists themselves, for universities like georgetown to be engaged in. it's interesting in today's
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world we are deluged with so much information. i mean, we are living anz information overload times. and so we need ways of cutting through all of that. we're also living, on the one hand this, and on the other hand that sort of media environment. i always joke that if a television station or a newspaper interviews somebody who is claiming that the earth is round, they have to put on somebody from the flat earth society because that's balanced, fair and balanced coverage. and so part of what we have to -- [applause]ñi part of what we have to do is look for ways to break through all of that, and i think the power of the arts to do that is so enormous and we can't ever forget about the role that it
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must play in giving life to the aspirations of people around the world. thank you, all, very much. [applause] >> ladies and gentlemen, could i ask you to be seated for a few short minutes while secretary clinton departs?
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president obama outlines some of the missteps that led to an attempted airline bombing on christmas day. the president spoke briefly from a marine corps base in hawaii where he and his family are on vacation. >> good morning. yesterday i updated the american people on the immediate steps we took to the increased screening and security of air travel to keep our country safe in the wake of the attempted terrorist attack on christmas day. and i announce two reviews. a review of the terrorist watch list system and a review of our air travel screening, so we can find out what went wrong, fix it, and prevent future attacks. those reviews began on sunday, and are now underway. earlier today i issued the formal guidelines for those reviews and directed the
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preliminary findings be provided to the white house by this thursday. it's essential we diagnose the problems quickly and deal with them immediately. the more comprehensive, formal reviews and recommendations for improvement will be completed in the coming weeks, and i'm committed to working with congress and our intelligence, law enforcement, and homeland security communities to take all necessary steps to protect the country. i wanted to speak to the american people again today because some of the preliminary information that has surfaced in the last 24 hours raises some serious concerns. it's been widely reported that the father of the suspect in the christmas incident warned u.s. officials in africa about his son's extremist views. it now appears that weeks ago this information was passed to a component of our intelligence community but was not effectively distributed so as to get the suspect's name on a no-fly list. there appears to be other deficiencies as well.
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even without this one report, there were bits of information available within the intelligence community that could have and should have been pieced together. we've achieved much since 9/11 in terms of collecting information that relates to terrorists and potential terrorist attacks, but it's becoming clear that the system that has been in place for years now is not sufficiently up to date to take full advantage of the information we collect and the knowledge we have. had this critical information been shared, it could have been compiled with other intelligence and a fuller, clearer picture of the suspect would have emerged. the warning signs would have triggered red flags, and the suspects would have never been allowed to board that plane for america. the professionalism of the men and women in our intelligence, counterterrorism, and law enforcement and homeland security communities is extraordinary. they are some of the most hardworki hardworking, most dedicated americans that i have ever met. the pursuit of our security at home, they risk their lives day
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in and day out in this country and around the world. few americans see their work, but all americans are safer because of their successes. they have targeted and taken out violent extremists. they have disrupted plots and saved countless american lives. they are making real and daily progress in our mission to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al qaeda and other extremist networks around the world. and for this, every american owes them a profound and lasting debt of gratitude. moreover, as secretary napalitano said, once the suspect attempted to take down flight 253, after his attempt, it's clear that passengers and crew, our homeland security systems, and our aviation security took all appropriate actions. what's also clear is this, when our government has information on a known extremist and that information is not shared and acted upon as it should have been so that this extremist boards a plane with dangerous
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explosives that could have cost nearly 300 lives, a systemic failure has occurred. and i consider that totally unacceptable. the reviews i've order willed surely tell us more, but what already is apparent is there was a mix of human and systemic failures that contributed to this potential, catastrophic breach of security. we need to learn from this episode and act quickly to fix the flaws in our system because our security is at stake and lives are at stake. i fully understand that even when every person charged with ensuring our security does what they are trained to do, even when every system works exactly as intended, there's still no 100% guarantee of success. yet this should only compel us to work even harder, to be more innovative and relentless in our efforts. as president, i will do everything in my power to support the men and women in intelligence, law enforcement, and homeland security to make sure they've got the tools and resources they need to keep
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america safe. but it's also my job to insure that our çóintelligence, law enforcement, and homeland security systems and the people in them are working effectively and held accountable. i intend to fulfill that responsibility and insist on accountability at every level. that's the spirit guiding our reviews into the attempted attack on christmas day. that is the spirit that will guide all ourñi efforts in the days and years ahead. thank you very much.
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>> next, a forum on how congress sets economic policy at a conference hosted by the university of virginia. former capitol hill staffers join scholars to discuss how legislation is passed. this is about an hour and 40 minutes. >> welcome back. a reminderçó to turn off your
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electronic devices. we have come far and we have a little bit more to go given the pr associated with debt and deficits. our last panel today before the concluding roundtable and the keynote explores the possibility of policy reform. and our panel is very well eq p equipped to consider this possibility as someñr ofçó theme spent significant parts of their lives in the policy trenches. let me introduce our panel. we have lawrence ef vans, john hilley who served as seniorlp advisor to president clinton in 1996-1998. and g. william hoagland who served as policy advisorñiñ2hp'p budget aid to former senate majority leader bill frist. frances lee from the university of maryland-college park and w.
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lee rawls from the f.b.i. and in a past life was chief of staff to the majority leader bill frist and to -- and chief of staff to another senator.çó the session is moderated by alai murray. alan is especially appropriate for this given his authorship of "showdown at guchi gulch" 1986 and i would say it would make a terrific holiday gift having used it in class. alan? >> that was good. that made the trip all worth whooil. thank you, david. so it's a bigger panel than the last panel and each panelist this time only gets 5 to 7 minutes. we have a bit of a problem because three of theñi people o this panel have worked in the u.s. senate which knows no time limits, but i'll do my best to enforce it. we're going to start with frances lee. >> it's difficult to find
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optimism in the near term about the quest to bring government expenditures into a sustainable balance. when democrats control the presidency and enjoy solid molecular weight martian of control in both chambers of underestimate the need for a legislative bipartisanship. nevertheless, data collected over long periods of time testify to the great importance of bipartisanship for successful law making. congress rarely legislates with narrow margins of victory. generally speaking, most successful legislations, including significant legislation on verbcontroversia matters garners widespread bipartisan support. according to yale political science, 80% of all important legislation passed by congress in the post-war period had the support of 2/3 of the membership of both chambers of congress. and fully 95% of these laws gained that kind of ascent in
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one chamber. the reform politics are not the norm for recent congresses and legislation. most of the legislation approved so far by the 111th congress has been approved by 2/3 margin in both house and senate, including on controversial matters like tobacco regulation, mortgage foreclosures, national service, and children's health insurance. intense party convict is a threat to -- intense party conflict presents problems for fiscal reform. there are obviously wide id ideological differences between the two parties on the appropriate level of taxation and government expenditures, but the goal of finding long-term balance between revenues and expenditures is not itself ideological. whether government expenditures are set at a high or low level neither liberals nor conservatives favor endless deficits. given this, pundits and
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politicians alike regularly float proposals for some kind of grand bargain, perhaps facilitated by an independent commission, that could combine spending cuts and tax increases. in theory, such an agreement ought to be possible, but to compound the difficulty, budget politics also creates extraordinary incentives for the parties to engage in posturing and point scoring rather than constructive engagement to bridge the divenfferences. even if it's possible to strike a comprise among different policy preferences, it presents powerful for the party out of power to refuse a deal and exploit for partisan advantage growing concern about public deficits. bringing republicans and democrats together is far more difficult than bringing liberals and conservatives together. even though bipartisanship is usually necessary for law making and even though long-term fiscal
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balance is a consensus goal across the political spectrum, political incentives create formidable obstacles to cross party cooperation on fiscal matters. deficits are a policy problem, but they're also a potent political weapon. a party out of power does not merely object to the ideological direction of national policy. it also seeks to impeach the competent and the effectiveness of the party in power. rather than work on a bipartisan solution to a political problem, political incentives real estatingly drive a party out of power to reject comprise and relentlessly prosecute the party in power for incompetence and fiscal mismanagement. few issues more effectively call political leadership into question than uncontrollable deficits. deficits fall into a category that political scientist donald issues.
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unlike position issues on which parties and candidates take a range of positions understood from left to right, these are issues on which everyone, regardless of ideology, holds the same position. everyone, liberal and conservatives alike is against government corruption. everyone is against race, fraud, and abuse. everyone favors competent management and government efficiency. but precisely because there's consensus in american politics on the desirability of such things, the party out of power will offer deficiencies in these as exhibit a in the case for returning to power. the issues are so important to party politics because so many voters have no strong ideological commitment. only slightly more than half of americans, 56%, in the latest pugh research center for the people in the press poll, identify themselves as either liberal or conservative. both parties are continually
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bidding for the voter support and these are a major way of doing so. bipartisan cooperation on fiscal policy is frequently the casualty of the party's efforts to paint their opponents as incompetent in government. although both parties attempt to use these issues to their advantage at any given time, it is the party out of power who possesses greatest concern about deficits. this pattern is evident in the politics of raising this statutory debt limit. a congress member's willingness to vote in favor of an increase in the public debt limit is largely determined by which party is in power. during the reagan years, democrats consistently voted against raising the debt limit and republicans voted for it. during the clinton years, republicans opposed raising the debt limitçó while democrats during the george bush, democrats opposed it and republicans supported them as needed. the party out of power uses these issues to embarrass the
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party in power and posture as guardians of the federal fist. and debate on budget and fiscal reform is highly partisan in congress not when it involve ideological questions but is a vehicle for teaching the partisan opponent. and one of the reoccurring issues has been on whether congress should rely on estimates from the congressional budget office. c.e.o. uses more conservative assumptions than the o.m.b. and the party out of power likes c.e.o. numbers better than o.m.b. numbers.ñiñr during bill clinton's presidency, the choice of two budget estimates was essential to in the budget impasse that led to the government shutdown of 1995 and 1996 with republicans demanding the use of c.v.o. numbers.
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and given how important budget issues are for any campaign to )mujjuááju to regain control of the national government, the out party has powerful incentive not to come to the table to negotiate. it may be that the only way the issue cans be addressed effectively is during issues of divided government. reflecting back overñr recent decades, most of the significant budget agreements that lowers federal deficits were adopted when one party controlled congress and the other the presidency, this includes the 1990 budget accord as well as the budget agreements during the clinton years that contributed to the surpluses of the second reforms that raised trust fund revenues and lowered the long-term cost of the program also occurred under conditions of divided government. bipartisan comprise is about the only way that the american government functions. given the large number of veto
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points, the krougd of the agenda, and the effectiveness of minority party obstruction, major legislation is almost never pass the mid other way. but powerfulñi political incentives frequently stand in i they are both open to what liberals and conservatives can agree on. >> thank you,çó frances. . we move on to john hilley, we were talking if there is a health care bill, it will be passed on a straight party vote. what do you think that means for the future of that bill? how does it fit in your framework? >> it is very unusual to see that happen. and it is quite striking. normally when it looks like a bill is going to happen that provides some incentive for at least some members of the party out of power to come to the table and get something in that
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they would like and the legislation makes it very unusual. and should not generalize to normal congressional party politics. way outside the norm. >> john hilley. >> thank you. today i'm going to offer an idea for a new budget system for the federal government to subplant the current one that is clearly not working at all. i have tried to design thisñrçó system that it could be both fiscally responsible and politically viable, which is really the trick. and it's called square one which you'll see in a minute why i and first let me give you a basic concept that tries to create incentives and to reconcile the policy differences and if they fail to doñi that i is fiscal responsibility. so i'mñr going to circle back t
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the attributes including a critically the political ones. and again, this is new. you'll see thatñiçó there's thr interlocking elements involved. i ask you to bear with me. i'm going to try to be precise and ask you to focus. a sg
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version of this straightforward and comprehensive rule would freeze domestic spending, freeze defense spending, freeze automatic cola adjustments, freeze the inflation indexing of the tax code and freeze other across-the-board types of automatic payments. you can see why i call this square one because it goes back to square one putting lot of potential savings in the pot for potential deficit reduction. and of course, if this rule were allowed to play out and all those freezes did take effect, it would lead to a balanced budget in some specific number of years. that is element numberçó one. here comes element number two, and this is the really important part that tries to let the political system be successful. we need to give our representatives a skway to allocate scarceñi resources in positive way. i do that by adding back what i call a fiscal dividend. the idea of a fiscal dividend is
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actually quite simple. of budgetary resources that are made available by not cutting as deeply as the comprehensive rule would if it were allowed to go into effect. now, there are a couple of ways of doing this, and i'm going to take a very simple version of it, although i say there's others. the situation le the situation le simplest would be to express the savings that would be generated by the ñrrules. however it's done t key is to create the fiscal dividend which the political system can allocate. for example, and as part of the annual budget process, our elected representatives which would determine the use of a fiscal dividend, and it could go to partially or fully offset the cola, to give colas and could be used to fully or partially offset indexing in the tax code and raise defense or domestic spending above last year's level, but very, very, very
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importantly there could be -- they would be free to make other budgetary changes as long as those generated the savings needed by the rule and clearly if they didn't like the savings being generated by the rule, which it is set up so they won't, then they are completely free to offset the saveings with the others but it all must be here's element number three, and this is the one that encourages parties to work together and sets the default on the federal government. the first element is to abollic reconciliation. it has been massively abused and it is -- it encourages terrible behavior by both parties. the majority party tries to steam roll the majority or melts down. the minority sits on the sidelines and tries to make the majority meltdown. under square one, budget decisions would not be part of any privileged bill as they are
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today. members of the two parties could work together to allocate the fiscal dividend as well as make other budget decisions, or they could disagree, fail to pass a bill and invoke the filibuster in the senate if they so desire. but in the event of a political meltdown in the budget bill which allocates the dividend as well as making other changes t system would revert to existing law and that includes the comprehensive rules generating budget savings. those savings would float deficit reduction and uno to this budget system, the leader's failure to act is fiscal responsibility. those are the barebone mechanics. let me talk about the attributes and some of the political aspects of this. the first and obvious objection is that our elected representative wills never, ever, ever agree to a budget system with añi prospect of
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imposing pain. well, maybe and maybeñi çó'ot. the workable part of a budget system is not how quickly we get to balance, but it is about towards fiscal responsibility. that is how you asure the holders of the sovereign debt and the currency and bond markets that we're on a good course as is the topic of yesterday's discussion. but as importantly as having been a practitioner in our professional lives, there have been two great structural fiscal implosions in 1981 and again in 2001 and 2003. the fist one took 16 years to correct. this one will certainly take as long. to me the prime objective should be to build a permanent budget box that is fiscally responsible and does not permit the kinds of fiscal implosions that have so hurt our economic standing.
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what kind of flexibility am i talking about? it has all sorts of flexibility. you could make the fiscal dividend any size you wanted by percentage cut or the amount that would be the fiscal dividend. and of course and especially in the time, you could delay or phase in the start of the regime until economic conditions improve and in fact, you could trigger the rule under something like obvious measures such as unemployment measures and return to the health of the economy. but the one thing that is absolutely essential is the broad based rule. as many of us recall, one of the several problem of graham redman is it was narrowly incorporated president you can diskuz ou this system differs from graham redman, but the essential part of square one is a comprehensive rule that spreads the pain
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widely and not unfairly so that if the rule is invoked the only serious, really serious dislocations will be electoral. now, let's consider another potential objection. even if the systems are in place, the representative wills never want to cut colas and not offset the tax code and absolutely correct. my answer is, fine, then don't. have a political fight about how the government's budgetary resources are used. make your best arguments and gatherxd your coalitions and fit it out in the open. this system absolutely encourages the party to find other savings and actually secure the deficit and maybe force the fundamental reforms that are so needed on the tax side andxd expenditure side of e government. but remember f you meltdown and don't fulfill your job description, you will be reverting to the rule that does you will have failed to act back the fiscal dividend to attend to
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our country's need. but unlike the current situation in which legislative and budgetary fights put our country in a deeper fiscal and economic hole, this failure would have two virtuous results. the default setting would be fiscal responsibility and the next election would be very, very interesting. there are a couple of other reforms that are need to be part of this such as pay-go and we can talk about that later. >> let me ask you one before we leave you, let me ask you one broad question. i went to washington in 1980 and was working for the congressional quarterly and for a month and a half i was studying rules and i was going to be the bobby byrd of journalists and after a month and a half of filling my head with rules and then i discovered exceptions and finally one of my wiser colleagues said, you know, there's only one rule you need
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to know. and i said, what's that? he said at the end of the day congress can do whatever it wants to do. haven't we seen that demonstrated over and over again over the last three decades and why would this system work where all overs have failed? >> there's good rules and bad rules. if you take graham redman and basically said use the current system which is not bipartisan, cut, cut, cut and if you don't cut enough, arbitrarily fix goals and then we have a sequester. all of which was completely politically unrealistic and that is why it died within a couple of years. what this tries to do is and e carrot stick and an electrical
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hammer. work together and reconcile the differences and it gives them a reason to work together and to get the reconciliation, but if you fail to form, there are electoral consequences because it will fall on politically important constituents. and it's the carrot, the stick, and electoral consequences. can i make one final summary if, i could, please. >> you can concede some of your time to john, but we will have plenty of time for discussions. >> and hoagland was the budget officer and john wrote what i call a brilliant book called "legislating together" which was on the 1997 balance budget act that got passed where he was working for the clinton
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administration and managed to have house republicans, senate republicans, senate democrats and all in one page. using reconciliation. it's a very good book and if you look at the team up here, you will see really the audience presence and i think anybody that looks at the present health care legislation would see for some reason american legislation is usually afoot in the senate for a variety of reasons. and i know over the years that i have had some theories on it and i opened up for senate majority leader howard baker and that was launching and inflicting one of my theories on the senate on him and he looked me in the way that majority leaders can do which is, enough of this.
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he basically said, look t senate is very easy. you need to calm down. it's the greatest deliberating body in the world. members debate the issues of the day. the spouses socialize with each other, the children play together, and when one of us loses, we eat together. and so it shows the self-importance and the plan for power and it's real to the members. and also frances did a good job of laying out the consensus view in large parts of academia and the american public in term of bipartisanship and the relative holes. and i think my role here is toça
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little bit go with the grinch or scrooge. we would used to go with my children to see "a christmas story" every year andxd when scrooge would launch into the early colloquy, i would turn to my wife and say, you know, he's got a pint. you need to be frugal. she would give me this stare that wives reserve for husbands when they said something stupid and put me back in my place, but basically i would say the consensus view is that allçó problems in american politics could be easily solved if only the members and the parties would stand back and do what's in the best interest of america and engage in kind of an effortless bipartisanship. and that we have an era of hypertoxic, unprecedented partisanship that's loose. i p
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to the partisanship and i'm going to let larry defend me on this view because he's actually a student of this, but the level of partisanship in america today is not unprecedented. in the 19th century we had equal or worse, so it's just something to keep in mind in a historical perspective. in fact, when historians look at the partisanship of today, they find this very self-indulgent compared to the politics of the founders had at the start and that we had in the civilñrçó wa when, in ñifact, men used to go onto the senate floor armed and death by a congressman from south carolina, a massachusetts senator. so we need to realize that american politics schwab filled with emotion and maybe the time when joe biden takes geithner across the potomac and kills him in a duel we'll have matched what byrd and hamilton felt for each other, so realize that
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ticks is a very important -- politics is a very important part of the business. and what's in the tool box or the gear shift for american legislation and when the congress looks at an issue, what can they really do? and they really have three things. congress is mostly a status quo, crisis activated ñisystem. they're good in a crisis. we holler at them and it's messy watching them, but they're pretty good. 9/11, for president bush, came out with a tarp and $700 billion and number picked out of the air and admittedly picked out of the air, congress delivered, a lot of hollering, but they delivered. president obama shows up and he needs a stimulus, $700, $750 billion, out it goes. in a crisis, recently within the last year, congress has thrown $1.5 trillion out on mostly hunches and guidance and leadership from a president in term of response to what they see as a national crisis. congress is pretty good in a
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crisis. second thing it's got is partisan. there's a partisan response that john mentioned called reconciliation. it's the one way through the filibuster in the senate and with 51 votes in the proper circumstances you can prevail. a lot of efolks have it as a dirty word and call it partisan reconciliation, but if i were to say parliamentary, you would say, well, that's fine. all the other countries in the world have parliamentary systems where the executive and the legislative branches are in a majority party and a majority vote wins. only in america, america is the only place in the universe where a minority in one of the legislative bodies can stop measures. so that leads me to my third which is known asñr the filibusr which leads to me the gird gear that you have which is bipartisanship but it's not easy, casual, kum-ba-yah
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partisansh partisanship. it comes because the majority knows they have to negotiate with the minority and this is very hard and it approaches grid lock. frances did a good job of mentioning mahieu who says we get through it, but it's slow. we have negotiated bipartisanship, not easy bipartisanship. and in closing, i would just say i think you have to be realistic that we are in añi long budget war. this has been going on for a period and social security went bankrupt in 1983 and had to be saved. medicare went bankrupt in the late 1990's and we threw general revenues at it. we were bankrupt and threw general revenues at it. we're in it because of the recession and the boomers and it's more intense than ever, so the game's afoot. my feeling is we go through a variety of the options but the default option if we don't get a
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presidential program coming around in early 2010 that gives us a strategy for the future and something along the level of commission that has teeth, we're going to default toñr partisan politics, and i would see that as a long, tough fight. >> lee, just one thing before we move on. i appreciate your historical perspective and accept the fact when jefferson ran againstñr hamilton, the partisan strike may have been worse and certainly during the civil war and partisan strife was worse. i take a somewhat shorter view of history, which is the history i know. 1980 to the present. and to me, it looks like a pretty straight downhill slide in the ability of people of goodwill from both parties to get together and address problems of common, public interest as opposed to constantly looking for an edge in the next election. you disagree with that? >> i do. that's why i'm here.
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what you really have is you do have an increase in partisanship since the second world war, but the really key factor is that the south had 2/3 of the leadership positions in the house and senate, and you had long-term democratic control in t and larry is tex pert on this, but starting in the 1970's in the to attack the southern stronghold for a whole host of reasons that most of us would agree with, so that blacks, so that women, so that consumers and environmentalists could enter into the political equation. and what happened in 1980 is the system becomes competitive. republicans actually win in the senate and these swings are back and forth by one or two votes on every election. it is one thing to watch a football game and it's 55-0 and everybody is picking each other up and patting them over. put them in overtime and the super bowl and they're going for each other in a hard way.
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and as long as you have parties that have a strategic interest and either maintaining power or trying to recover power, you're going to have a competitive situation. my feeling is it's not because of men of goodwill that are having a problem. it's just that the american political system since about 1980 has been very competitive and swinging back and forth and narrow majorities in the house and senate and it make for a more competitive atmosphere. >> larry? >> a nice setup. i work at william and marry where mr. jefferson received his bachelor's degree, so it's a pleasure to come to u.v.a. and see how he so brilliantly applied all these insights. lee is absolutely correct about the partisan nature but it is a case that has gotten worse since the 1970s and if you look at the
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distribution, it used to be that 20, 30 years ago that we had democrats who were more conservative than a lot of republicans and we had liberal republicans. since about 1980 that overlap has all but disappeared. in the senate it doesn't exist anymore. the most conservative democrat bill nelson is more liberal of the most senators in the house and there is one individual, one democrat who is more conservative than the most liberal republican and i assume he eats alone and is a pretty if task really before us is how to deal with these daunting structural deficits within that kind of a political context. frances makes the point that we have research that shows in the past landmark legislation almost always has been passed with large bipartisan majorities and to some extent that is the case. look at final passage votes and they tepid to be lopsided and
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partisan. and amendment votes are often quite close chgs which is where the content of the legislation is formed. if you look at pre-1980, it was duringing that era that we had that midle thar i mentioned before. you saw a lot of cross partisan coalition building because there were people in the middle. after 1980 as we see a slide towards a more partisan breakdown within the two chambers, you cease disproportionately periods of divided government. if you have a president of one party and a congress control bid the other, you have to have a degree of bipartisanship to get everything done. now we're in an era with a very partisan shows and senate and unified government and not a great surprise that profoundly important legislation being pased this session on knock down, drag out partisan vote and may be more predictive of what's to come than recent history would suggest. i want to talk a little bit about process. i really enjoy what john said
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and i think he in his proposal -- and this is new and i have not read this before, but based on what i have just heard, he is raising the kinds of process or reforms that we're going to hear about in the next 10 years and i would like to talk about those and some of the other stuff that's on the agenda briefly. i think it's useful to think about previous ifrts in using procedure to drive down deficits in two category. category number one would be where you have some kind of a rule that basically is put in place in the absence of an underlying deal or bargain or comprise aimed at making programmatic changes. you have a situation where members of congress are up able to agree and come up with a programmatic reform. you use procedure and the rules of the game to try to force them basically to do something that they really don't want to do because of the political costs. the second category of reform is when you use rules to lock in
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the negotiated comprises after they have occurred. so members of congress get together and have a knock down, democrat o drag out fight and then the task becomes how do we keep them from backsliding in the future and there are ways to use rules and enforce the agreements and lock them in. the best for example is graham redman haul hollings. and the second the use of pay-go procedure to lock that in place. with the historical record, it seems to indicate that first category does not work. what john suggests is different. he is right about that, but that essential logic or problems are similar in that under the constitution of the united states, the internal rules including the budget rules of the house and senate are the responsibility of the members and passed statutory rules but basically the house at any point in time with 51% of the members, 218 votes, can go in there and


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